View Full Version : russian winter
I am planning a trip to Moscow and St Petersburg next year and would love to shoot the cities in the snow. Can i shoot in the winter? or is it simply too cold. Im from Australia so im not exactly used to anything below 10 degrees. I am only there for a month so i cant waste too many days waiting for the weather to change. also are there labs to process my 5x4 readyload? When is the best time to go, accomdation...any help would be great.
Todays paper says it is 30/7 in Moscow and 30/27 in St Petersburg. When I was there in the 80s cameras were not in favor, but those temps ar't that much worse than Yellowstone at times. Batteries die, keep camera close to your body etc. Enjoy, use pesonal anti-freeze and make nice images.
My Siberian born ex-girlfriend used to say that the weather was much colder and the climate much worse here in Montreal than in Moscow. Expect temperatures in the -5 to -10 Celcius range in daytime, which is not very cold if it's not windy. Unless there is fog or extremely high humidity which is unlikely, your view camera will work fine, with no special precautions. Breathing on the lens will create some bad condensation, but it will clear up in seconds. I don't think that the film needs any special attentions either.
Two exceptions to this. The first is falling snow. Make sure it doesn't enter the film holders. The second are rapid temperature changes. Being outdoors all days is OK for both the film and camera. Shifting from indoors to outdoors all the time will create some condensation on the lens and perhaps (this is unlikely, though) on film. This will happens indoors, however, where you probably won't need the camera.
Electronics can be quite sensitive to that type of condensation. But your view camera will be OK and an old meter with no LCD meter (Gossen LunaPro and the like) will be fine in any weather. I've used my LunaSix when it was -20 and -25 Celcius with no problem. In short: your view camera will tolerate the low temperatures MUCH better than your fingers...
I don't know anything about sheet film availability or processing in Moscow, but I wouldn't count on it. Perhaps someone will know better.
I live in the northern part of Norway and the climate here varies very much from summer to winter (+30C in the summer and -30C during the winter is not uncommon). I have used my large format equipment in temperatures below -35C and there are some things you need to watch out for. Some of the things is mentoined by Philippe.
I dont think you will meet very low temperatures in neither St. Petersburg or Moscow, but you never know.
Keep warm. This is the most important thing. If you are cold you will not do a good job as a photographer. Working with LF requires time/planning (as we all know...) and it is no fun if you are freezing. And if the fun is gone, whats left? I use gloves with cut-off fingertips when focusing and adjusting aperture/shutter.
Condensation. Low temperatures will not hurt your equipment, but quick changes in temperatures can cause unpleasant condensation. If you use long time composing and focusing, ice on the groundglass caused by your breath may be a problem. To avoid this I often use a ski mask (with the glasses knocked out) to prevent my (relative) warm breath to hit the groundglass.
Batteries loose effect in low temperatures. If you have equipment which requires batteries such as a light meter, be ware that they might stop working at some point. My analog spotmeter works nice even in extreme temperatures (Capital). My friends Canon EOS 10D didnt even start up in -30C. If you wam up batteries under your clothes, they will work until they are cold again.
I have read that some have experienced probems with shutters in low temperatures, but I have not experienced this myself. I have range of new ond very old shutters and they all work very well in low temperatures.
When I do landscape photography in low temperatures I only use cameras which dont require any electrisity, such as my LF camera and my good old Mamiya 645. Some of my friends consider me insane when I go out photographing on very cold days. But on days with temperatures below -20C the air is super clear and the light is often fantastic.
Enjoy your stay in Russia Tom.
if you've not used to temperatures below 10 centigrade, you are in for a shock! I suggest you pratice setting up, composing, focusing etc your camera in gloves and several layers of clothing to get an understanding of how restricting things will be. To minimise things I suggest you use readyloads, save the bulk and weight of DDS for something useful, like a thermos of hot coffee!
Fuji have a a distributor in Moscow, you could try contacting your local rep to see if they know of any pro labs that can handle LF film. (if you can read russian, go to: http://www.fujifilm.ru (http://www.fujifilm.ru))
PS, when focusing at the back of your metal LF camera, be sure not to touch it with your tongue.
Charles D. Ewen
Sorry to be late in joining the conversation, but I'm just back from a couple weeks in Moscow.
YMMV, of course, as we're talking about weather, but my observations are these: low, thick clouds EVERYDAY - very grey. There were spectacular, welcome breaks in the cloud-cover, lasting half an hour to half a day, but whole days went by without seeing a shadow. Available light (a relative term) was from about 9AM to 4PM. It snowed most days, but always very lightly. The locals tell me they very rarely get a significant snowfall. Everyone seemed extraordinarily diligent about snow removal. Still, the sidewalks are treacherous, with patches of ice everywhere. There were no windy days. The temperatures stayed in a very narrow range, from slightly above freezing during the day to about 20F/-5C at night.
Some positive photographic aspects: the buildings in Moscow are surprisingly colorful - lots of green and blue pastel. An astonishly large number of them are lit up at night. Given the short daylight, you might consider taking more night shots. There is certainly no shortage of subjects; you will cry for lack of time or lighting conditions.
A couple of other observations: bring FAR more money than you expect, of course. Consider how you will get around town. Using the Metro or hiring a driver is the best way. Renting a car and driving yourself is suicidal (perhaps even impossible). Moscow has millions and millions of trees (all of the same height). They, and the ubiquitous suspended trolley wires, will obscure any subject.
As far as labs, go, I can't be of any help; I have yet to bring any LF gear to Russia. Your best bet is self-processing. Good luck!
I'm from Moscow. Here is +5C degrees now, not cold. That's hot weather for winter in this year, it's strange, but it is.
May be later weather will be much cold like -5...-10 C. You will need 2-3 days for adaptation here. There are many people from hot countries like Turkie, Azerbaydjan, Israel, they haven't got a problem.
Tom, you can to process film at 5-6 labs in Moscow. I use "Fotolab". That's location on Rojdestvenka street 11. (metro station: "Kuznetskiy most", that's not far from Red Square)
tel. 234-4886, 923-0724
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